Family ‘at centre of Surrey school race attack’ branded ‘neighbours from hell’
The family said to be at the centre of a school race attack in Surrey were today branded ‘neighbours from hell’ by local residents who said the family has ‘gone into hiding’ after being arrested on charges including attempted grievous bodily harm.
Locals in Stanwell claim they have been plagued by a campaign of intimidation and anti-social behaviour from the family, made up of a mother in her 30s and three daughters, and said local people are ‘terrified of them.’
Horrific footage appeared last week showing a 15-year-old black schoolgirl being attacked by a gang of children hitting, kicking and dragging her by the hair close to Thomas Knyvett College in Ashford, Surrey.
The attack was so vicious that nine of the girl’s braids were pulled from her scalp during the onslaught, as adults were heard spurring the attackers on.
Four people have been arrested on suspicion of attempted racially aggravated grievous bodily harm, including a 39-year-old woman, a 16-year-old girl and two 11-year-old girls.
The violent footage shows a group of young girls attacking a teenager in the middle of the street on Monday afternoon
The victim had nine braids ripped from her head during the attack, it has been reported
The woman and a 43-year-old man were also arrested on suspicion of child neglect and intentionally encouraging and assisting the commission of an indictable-only offence, which means the case can only be heard by a crown court.
The 16-year-old was also arrested on suspicion of malicious communications. All have been released on bail.
The youngest two girls from the Stanwell family are said to have carried out the attack with another youngster as their mother goaded them on.
The family are understood to have gone into hiding after shocking images of the attack were posted online.
The five suspects have been banned from Surrey while police urge a further teenager, 15, to hand herself in.
On Friday, Chief Inspector Dallas McDermott of Surrey Police described the incident as ‘disturbing’ and said he is ‘disappointed’ with the reaction of the public in the video.
In the footage, the attack went on for several minutes with members of the public watching on before anyone intervened.
In the video, one woman was filmed coaching the young mob to ‘kick her in the face’, ‘get her’ and ‘down her’. The victim’s family claims she was attacked for standing up for a friend who she claims was being bullied by the attackers.
Her cousin claims the girl, who hasn’t been named, received ‘racial’ voice notes before the attack warning they planned to ‘drag her hair out’ and ‘leave her on the side of the road’.
It comes as a Change.org petition calling for the school’s headteacher to be sacked is fast reaching 100,000 signatures, amid mounting fury from black rights groups and community leaders.
Furious protestors who held a rally outside Thomas Knyvett College in Ashford, Surrey, on Wednesday later marched to the family address less than two miles away in Stanwell.
Eyewitnesses said one angry demonstrator tried to kick down the front door of the property during heated scenes.
One neighbour told MailOnline: ‘They really are the neighbours from hell. There are people here who just want to move because they have had enough. They can’t take it any more.
‘People are terrified of them. We just hope they never come back.’
Locals said the family had not returned to the modern three-bedroom property since the incident.
Three rugs were left draped over the front wall while children’s socks and toys lie strewn around outside the front door along with an old washing machine and a storage container full of shoes.
Raspect Fyahbingh from For Ever Family speaks outside Thomas Knyvett College in Ashford, Surrey, following a ‘racist’ attack against a black schoolgirl
The attack occurred close to Thomas Knyvett College, which has come under fire for not intervening quickly enough
An empty black suitcase has been left on top of a flat porch roof while a white vehicle is parked in the driveway.
One local woman, whose daughter is a pupil at the school, said: ‘People are scared and intimidated by them. There have been so many run-ins and the police have been called.
‘It’s just been one thing after another and people don’t feel safe. No-one wants to speak out about them because we have our children to think about.
‘They come from a big family and they are everywhere around here. They have eyes everywhere. The whole situation is awful. The whole thing is wrong.’
One man who lives nearby said: ‘The police have had to get involved. One time they were on the receiving end of it when all their vehicles were smashed in the middle of the night. They never found out who did it.
‘The family installed CCTV cameras outside the house after that.’
Another woman neighbour said: ‘There’s a mother and three daughters who live there. People have had nothing but trouble with them.
‘They normally have all the windows open and whenever you walk past the house you hear her shouting at the kids.
‘There are usually a lot more cars outside. There’s a dark-coloured people carrier that they park outside blocking the pavement.
‘There was a big protest here and everyone was standing out on the road outside their house while the police were here.
‘This is a quiet cul-de-sac and they just seem to bring nothing but trouble.’
Chief Inspector McDermott, who works in neighbourhood policing in North Surrey, said a number of officers were trying to bring the sixth suspect, a 15-year-old girl, into custody.
Speaking about his initial reaction to the video, he said: ‘Straight away when I was watching it, I was extremely shocked to see the level of violence that was used and the number of offenders that also targeted this girl – really shocking to see.
‘I’ve said that (I’ve had) 23 years in the police, and as a police officer to watch that is disturbing, not just as a father.
‘So I can understand how shocked, how angry, not just the local community are but the wider community to see such a vicious attack.’
Mr McDermott said although there are still pieces of evidence to gather, meaning the suspects were released on bail, they are subject to some ‘stringent bail conditions’.
He said: ‘There’s a certain threshold we need to get to get evidence and get charges.
‘Unfortunately we weren’t quite there yet. There’s some key pieces of evidence that we need to present to the CPS so we’re doing that as swiftly as we can.
‘We can’t just rely on the video for evidence in this case.
‘We’ve had to release them on bail but they’ve been given some stringent bail conditions and one of those conditions is that they can’t enter Surrey.’
On Thursday, MPs demanded an investigation amid an online backlash over the response of staff during the incident.
Asked if police are conducting their own inquiries into the school, Chief Inspector McDermott said: ‘That’s down to the education authority to do that. They’ve got their own processes in place and their own policies in place and I do know that they are doing that.
A police officer speaks to a demonstrator outside Thomas Knyvett College in Surrey
Police have asked people not to share videos of the fight online and asked any witnesses to come forward. There will be extra patrols through the area in the coming days
‘What I can say is that the school, and the teachers at the school, they have a duty of care under safeguarding. But that’s for the school to deal with and they’re running their own investigation in relation to that.
‘What I can say from watching the video, I think it’s fair to say I was disappointed with the reaction of some of the public in the immediate area.’
He added: ‘What I’m saying, from what I’ve seen on the video, I just think there are a number of people in the area and it was just disappointing to see the reaction of people watching that video. People stood around filming, for instance. It’s just disappointing.’
Mr McDermott said any racially-motivated attack in the county receives a ‘high level of response’.
He said: ‘In this case, we’re doing that with vigour.
‘We want to bring these offenders to justice. We’re trying to get those vital bits of evidence that we need to see charges, and I can say I believe we’re not far away.
‘So we’re confident as a police force and as a local police team that we will bring justice for the victims.’
Addressing the girl yet to hand herself in, Mr McDermott said: ‘There’s still one outstanding that we do need to arrest. That’s a 15-year-old girl.
‘She knows she’s wanted, family members will obviously know she is wanted so my plea to her and family members is to hand yourself in at the nearest police station.
‘That’s not stopping us from making active inquiries to locate her.
‘We have a number of officers… making those attempts to bring her into custody.’
A protest involving around 120 people was held outside the school on Wednesday, which Mr McDermott described as ‘very peaceful’.
He said: ‘It was all very peaceful, well organised and we had no issues there.
‘My approach to that is people have a right to protest, they have a right to voice their frustrations and I can accept and understand why people are angry when you see a video like that.’
Mr McDermott said officers will continue to engage with the school and local area over the coming days.